Five to Follow MLB Betting: Saturday, April 19, 2014 Opening Line Report
by Alan Matthews - 4/18/2014
Think it's possible we can make it through a full slate of games Saturday without hearing any more about Yasiel Puig and his trek from Cuba? Or with a weather-related delays or postponements? Both would be nice. Here is a look at five interesting games on the schedule.
Blue Jays at Indians (-114, 8.5)
Last season the Toronto Blue Jays got off to a lousy start in part because pitcher Mark Buehrle did. This season the Jays are competitive and in the thick of the mediocre AL East race, and Buehrle is a big reason why. The veteran lefty usually doesn't put up stellar numbers in categories like ERA and WHIP because he pitches to contact. Whatever Buehrle is doing is working as he's 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. He hasn't allowed a home run yet and walked just two in 21 innings. Buehrle made one start last year against Cleveland, and it didn't go well as he gave up six runs and seven hits in 5.1 innings. The Tribe are expecting Jason Giambi to come off the DL and make his season debut this weekend and he is 12-for-29 with four home runs and 11 RBIs career off Buehrle. The Jays are expected to activate shortstop Jose Reyes off the DL for Saturday's game. He has never faced projected Cleveland starter Corey Kluber (1-1, 5.40). He didn't pitch vs. Toronto in 2013.
Key trends: The "under" is 10-1-1 in Buehrle's past 12 Game 2 starts. The Indians are 9-1 in Kluber's past 10 home starts.
Early lean: Getting Buehrle as an underdog with how he's pitching is great value.
Astros at A's (-200, 7.5)
Houston has taken its expected spot at the bottom of the AL West and is last in the American League in run differential and last or nearly so in most major hitting categories. That bodes well for Oakland's Scott Kazmir on Saturday. He dealt with some back tightness following his last start, six shutout innings of the Mariners, but said he felt fine a day after and he's good to go. Kazmir (2-0, 1.40) has been everything the A's could have hoped for when they signed him this offseason. The lefty was 1-0 with a 5.23 ERA in two starts vs. Houston last year while with Cleveland. Jose Altuve is 3-for-6 with a double off him. Houston starts lefty Brett Oberholtzer (0-3, 3.50). He hasn't allowed more than three runs in any of his starts, but the Astros have combined for five themselves in those three. Few A's batters have faced Oberholtzer. Yoenis Cespedes is 2-for-3 with a home run.
Key trends: The Astros are 0-7 in Oberholtzer's past seven starts. The under is 7-0-1 in his past eight overall.
Early lean: Oakland also on the runline.
Braves at Mets (+112, 7)
The A's essentially chose Kazmir over re-signing Bartolo Colon, and that's looking smart right now. Colon is scheduled to start Saturday for the Mets, and he was obliterated for nine runs and 11 hits -- four home runs -- last time out against the Angels. It was the worst start of his career. Colon said he was dealing with back stiffness leading into that start, but he says it won't be an issue for this start after treatment. That's not good news for the Braves as Colon blanked Atlanta on six hits over seven innings on April 8 at Turner Field. B.J. Upton has been terrible again this season for the Braves, but he's had success in his career off Colon, going 8-for-26 with a home run and five RBIs. Atlanta starts Ervin Santana (1-0, 0.64). He made his Braves debut April 9 against the Mets and held them to three hits in eight scoreless innings. Curtis Granderson has five home runs and nine RBIs in 43 career at-bats off Santana, and Granderson is supposed to be activated from the DL for Saturday's game.
Key trends: The Mets are 5-0 in their past five entering Friday vs. a righty starter. The under is 7-2 in Atlanta's past nine road games against righty starters.
Early lean: Any time I see a home dog, I try to give myself a reason for taking it because it's such an advantage batting last. This is one of those times as long as Colon is healthy.
Yankees at Rays (-149, 7.5)
Oddsmakers apparently believe the New York Yankees are for real as they have moved into the +200 favorite role at Sportsbook.ag (with Tampa Bay) to win the AL East. New York had won five straight entering Friday after roughing up Rays ace David Price in the series opener Thursday, and the Bombers are expecting Mark Teixeira to be activated off the DL for Sunday's game. The New York rotation has been pretty good and starts Ivan Nova (2-1, 5.94) on Saturday. Nova has had two solid starts and one where he was torched by Baltimore. He was 1-3 with a 2.54 ERA in 28.1 innings against Tampa Bay last season. Evan Longoria is 8-for-28 with two home runs off Nova. The Rays offense is really struggling right now. They have scored 16 runs in their past 10 games entering Friday. Tampa Bay starts Chris Archer (1-1, 4.50). He started the year strong but was hammered for seven runs and 12 hits last time out by the Orioles. Brett Gardner is 4-for-8 career off Archer with three extra-base hits.
Key trends: The under is 5-0 in Nova's past five starts vs. the Rays. Tampa Bay is 6-0 in Archer's past six at home.
Early lean: I can't possibly recommend the Rays the way they are hitting even though I prefer Archer over Nova.
Phillies at Rockies (-143, 10)
Colorado, as usual, is among the offensive leaders in MLB in several main categories, but the Rockies are unlikely to have one of their key guys available to start on Saturday against the Phillies. Outfielder Michael Cuddyer, the reigning NL batting champion who is hitting .317 with three home runs and 10 RBIs this year, injured his hamstring on Thursday. He doesn't believe a DL trip will be needed, but he's likely to miss at least a few games but maybe can pinch hit. That potent Colorado offense faces Philadelphia's Kyle Kendrick (0-1, 3.50). He allowed 18 hits and 11 runs in just 9.1 innings pitched against the Rockies in 2013, most of that at Coors Field. The Rockies counter with Jordan Lyles (2-0, 4.32). He was one of the guys acquired from Houston in the Dexter Fowler deal. Lyles didn't face the Phillies last year. Jimmy Rollins is 3-for-5 with two doubles career off him.
Key trends: The Phillies are 0-6 in Kendrick's past six road starts. However, they are 7-1 in his past eight starts against Colorado.
Early lean: Why not take a shot with the Phillies since likely no Cuddyer and their overall success behind Kendrick vs. the Rockies.
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